Kids take center stage at hospital talent show

July 29, 2011 (CHICAGO)

Javier Sotelo turns 6 years old next month. His life, however, started in intensive care. He lived in the hospital more than 3 years. With lung disease, it seemed life would leave him. Instead, he breathed it in.

"I look at those pictures and I say, 'Thank God!'" said Javier's father Francisco Sotelo.

Javier uses oxygen and is in therapy -- his parents are never far away -- as he learns to walk through life, step by step.

"He's a true inspiration to me and his family is wonderful," said Javier's occupational therapist Margarita Redmond. "If I were to have a child, I would want a child like him.

Friday is special for Javier and dozens of other children -- it's the day of the talent show. In fact, 36 children participated in the show, each facing their own challenge, their own story and a lesson for the rest of us.

"It's the little miracles that these children have -- little steps, little progress that they make. But it's huge for these parents," said Manager of Pediatric Therapies Sonal Patel.

"I think it's amazing to see all of them trying to do their best, and give their best -- and even if it's just a little bit, they can do it," said parent Sandra Raciti.

There's 4-year-old Mateo Gil, who, with support from Dad, uses kung fu to fight cerebral palsy.

"He's actually adapted this saying that he says to us, my wife and I, he says 'Never give up!' It takes that to a higher degree," said Mateo's father Jason Gil.

And Javier Sotelo, who learned to walk about a month ago, is breathing, living and loving life.

"That child has a direct link to the guy upstairs because he is full of joy, full of life, and zest -- everybody loves him," Redmond said.

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